philosophy science theology

had to be chance?

chance & necessity | random & planned | chaos & order | freedom & determinism

The phrase ‘by chance’ refers to an event/result happening without compulsion or determination – we say the situation/result ‘did not have to be that way’.

The phrase ‘of necessity’ refers to an event/result happening according to compulsion or law – we say the situation/result ‘had to be that way’.

So.  The universe or ‘the world’ or ‘things’ or ‘stuff’… Chance or necessity?

Interestingly, both answers can be used to argue for some form of theism.

Leaving the question of a rather large number of ‘multiverses’ to the side for the moment (it’s interesting to reflect on whether or not this actually affects the ‘chance’ issue – I’m not convinced it does); if we “did not have to” exist in the way that we do, and are merely the result of ‘luck’ or ‘chance’ or ‘accident’ (in terms of cosmological, material causes and phenomena), then this can quite easily be said to point to a Creator who, as it were, was not surprised by the draw to the ‘lottery’ that is this creation.  An omniscient architect of the great ‘lottery’, who knows the mechanics of the machinery so well that the result is known before it plays out.  The odds, we say, are simply too small for it not to have been a plan.

And also, if we “had to” exist in the way that we do, being the result of sheer unflinching physical necessity (i.e. ‘it was just a matter of time until we got here’), and attribute our existence to the brute, unchangeable laws of nature, then this too can be said to point to a Creator who, as it were, is the Legislator behind the “Laws of Nature”, who builds the desired result into the building blocks of Creation.  Everything is predestined and determined, and (to quote atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett) “of course you have free will – you have no choice about that”.

10 replies on “had to be chance?”

What is the probability that the universe is the way it is: P=1. What is the probability that it didn’t necessarily have to be this way? P=0

Any argument for a creator always favours some hidden creator. If true, I wonder why it needs to hide so well?

I think many would disagree with your calculus (that the probability that the universe is this way = 1).
And your assertion that god is ‘hidden’ is loaded with interpretation of the world. Of course, so is mine and anyone else’s, but the point is to reason why it looks like a creator is ‘hidden’ (or ‘obvious’), etc.

Dale writes but the point is to reason why it looks like a creator is ‘hidden’ (or ‘obvious’), etc.

Be careful here: why are unicorn wings ‘hollow’ (or ‘filled’), etc.. The ‘why’ is only reasonable if and only if the subject is reasonable. And the subject is only reasonable if it is informed by something more than faith… meaning belief in the absence of evidence. Without something more than faith, the question is, as Dawkins would say (and has said) incoherent.

your epistemologically naturlist ‘information’ filter is showing, methinks. Sure, other-than-‘natural’ sources of knowledge make things a bit uncomfortably open, but so what?

It’s not a question of comfort but concern about what is probably true, probably accurate, probably correct. If you think “Other-than-natural” sources of knowledge exists, by all means inform that truth claim with something more than your (heartfelt and well-meaning) assertion.

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